AUT's MasterChef Judge

28 Oct, 2009
AUT's MasterChef Judge
New MasterChef judge and AUT Lecturer, Ray McVinnie

The search is on to find New Zealand's first MasterChef and AUT’s own Ray McVinnie will be on our television screens every week helping to find the country’s premier chef.

The former restaurant chef and lecturer in gastronomy at AUT’s Hospitality and Tourism School is set to judge the hit series with Ross Burden, a finalist in MasterChef UK in 1993, and Simon Gault, Euro chef.

The TV ONE series, due to start in the New Year, wants every kitchen wannabe from amateur cooks to budding foodies to toss their chef's hat in the ring. A real life drama will play out as the contestants' kitchen courage is put to the ultimate test. From the lows of failure to the highs of success, the cast of characters will be catapulted from starters to mains then desserts and back again.

Cuisine food editor and columnist Ray McVinnie has always had a passion for food. A professional chef for many years at some of Auckland's best restaurants, McVinnie has judged local and international food awards, as well as written numerous cooking books.

He is also an experienced food stylist, consultant and guest chef for various restaurants and cook schools.

When asked what he would be looking for in a contestant, McVinnie says, "An ideal contestant on MasterChef New Zealand would be someone with a great love of food and eating, a well-rounded person who can appreciate and understand flavour, with a good grounding in cooking technique, who is modest and willing to learn, but with an unshakeable pride in themselves. Someone who is meticulous in their attention to detail, and has a great deal of stamina."

McVinnie says working at AUT for the last five years has helped him hone his craft and learn how to better articulate his thoughts. “I’ve got all the theory but working with students has taught me how to get the theory across succinctly. I really like teaching because whenever you have to talk about yourself, you learn about yourself.”

And the learning always continues with food he says. “You can take the same recipe but every time you make it, it turns out different. That’s the thing about food; you can never learn it all.”

When talking about food and cooking McVinnie’s passion is obvious: “Food is not just about eating, it’s about everything we do. Everything in life is predicated on food- it’s crucial to living and society. When you know how to cook you have power over your health. It’s a big industry in New Zealand and it’s hugely important.”

For a man that finds inspiration everyday in something as simple as food, he’s still hungry for more from the contestants on MasterChef New Zealand. “I’m hoping to meet some people who really surprise me.”